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Longitudinal Study: LSAC
Title: Evidence for Protective Effects of Peer Play in the Early Years: Better Peer Play Ability at Age 3 Years Predicts Lower Risks of Externalising and Internalising Problems at Age 7 Years in a Longitudinal Cohort Analysis
Authors: Zhao, Yiran Vicky
Gibson, Jenny Louise
Publication Date: 14-Jun-2022
Abstract: Peer play ability may be a protective factor against childhood mental health difficulties but there is lack of empirical evidence to support this hypothesis. We conducted longitudinal structural equation modelling study over a population cohort (N = 1676) to examine the effect of age 3 peer play ability on children’s age 7 mental health outcomes (measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire subscales). We modelled effects for the entire population and two sub-groups at high-risk for mental health problems based on age 3 temperament. Controlling for demographic variables, temperament, maternal distress, play with parents and number of siblings, better peer play ability at age 3 years predicted lower risk of problems on all 4 SDQ subscales at age 7 years for the general population. For the low-persistence subgroup, better peer play ability at age 3 predicted lower risk of age 7 hyperactivity, emotional and peer problems, whereas better peer play ability at age 3 predicted only lower risk of age 7 hyperactivity for the high-reactivity group. Taken together our results provide evidence that supports the hypothesis that early peer play ability may be a protective factor against later mental health difficulties. We conclude that further research aimed at establishing causation is worth pursuing.
DOI: 10.1007/s10578-022-01368-x
Research collection: Journal Articles
Appears in Collections:Journal Articles

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